Driven by concerns over police violence, organizers are calling for the delay to give Houston residents more time to review the city’s budget and voice opinions on police department funding.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We have constantly increased the police budget for HPD; we have seen crime increase; we have seen less community trust; so we have got to change things," said Josep Say, co-founder of Pantsuit Republic Texas, an advocacy group that is also organizing the rally.
Say said his organization supports a recent slate of reforms proposed by Houston City Council Member Letitia Plummer; however, the group views them as the first of many steps to take toward rethinking law enforcement and criminal justice practices.
The rally begins at 8:30 a.m. on the steps of Houston City Hall, prior to Houston City Council beginning its 9 a.m. virtual meeting.
Dozens of speakers commented during Houston City Council public comment session June 9 supporting the budget vote delay. Some called for making police reforms stronger while others called to defund HPD.
“It’s time to stop being selfish and to change the systems that have already failed us,” 17-year-old southeast Houston resident Alejandra Mendoza said during public comment. “Start investing in the futures of the children in this city.”
The calls came on the day of Houston resident George Floyd's burial. Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody May 25, in addition to other high-profile deaths of black Americans in recent weeks, spurred widespread protests and calls for police department reform or abolition.
During the memorial service for Floyd, Mayor Sylvester Turner said he planned to sign an executive order to ban chokeholds; however, the Houston Police Officers Union stated the practice is already banned. The executive order will include other police reforms, Turner said; however, the language of it has yet to be made public. A 6 p.m. news conference detailing the order June 9 was canceled.
Houston's next fiscal year begins July 1.